Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Kinect in the Doctor Bag

AUG 12

Gaming is mainstream, but a new consumer for these technologies is evolving… healthcare professionals.  Most people think of games as entertainment, but health educators are learning games are also an effective training platform.

A classification of games known as “serious” games, describe video games that have been designed specifically for training and education.  Medical schools, hospitals, physician practices, and health systems are seeking more ways to engage their healthcare professionals and serious games and video simulation are earning their stripes:

   
  • Banner Simulation Medical Center is a 55,000-square-foot “virtual hospital” undergoing a pilot study with specially adapted Nintendo Wii, the doctors who regularly played scored 48% higher on tool control and performance than those who didn’t use the game
 

The ability of a video game to reward success, engage healthcare professionals, encourage collaboration and interaction amongst colleagues is a new twist on standard learning models.  The real-time feedback games provide can motivate “gamers” to proceed to the next level in the game, akin to attaining the next level of patient care.

Studies on the effectiveness of “gamification” for healthcare professional training are evolving.  However multiple industries have proven “serious” games to be successful including:

  • Flight simulation for pilots
  • Military games for combat training, a tool used since the 1980s
  • Computer network building for technicians of technology vendors like Cisco Systems
 

Gaming is a lower cost alternative.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal allude to the fact that lawmakers are “considering reducing the Medicare reimbursement for doctor training, possibly in half, to cut about $4 billion from the federal budget.”   With this proposed cut affecting reimbursement for academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, utilizing serious games could help the training budget pressures soon to be felt across the country.

While traditional education will always continue, utilizing this new form of training is proving in its early stages to be effective and lower cost.

Let us know what you think!

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Joanna Roth